August 10, 2011
Science Daily/JAMA and Archives Journals
Older women with sleep-disordered breathing, as indicated by measures of hypoxia (oxygen deficiency), were more likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia than women without this disorder, according to a new study.
"Sleep-disordered breathing, a disorder characterized by recurrent arousals from sleep and intermittent hypoxemia, is common among older adults and affects up to 60 percent of elderly populations. A number of adverse health outcomes including hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have been associated with sleep-disordered breathing," according to background information in the article.
Cognitive impairment also has been linked to sleep-disordered breathing in some studies, but the design of most of these studies has limited the ability to draw conclusions regarding this association. "Given the high prevalence and significant morbidity associated with both sleep-disordered breathing and cognitive impairment in older populations, establishing whether a prospective association exists between sleep-disordered breathing and cognition is important. This is especially important because effective treatments for sleep-disordered breathing exist."
"Moreover, in trials evaluating the effects of pharmacological and nonpharmacological (e.g., cognitive training and rehabilitation) interventions on cognitive function in patients with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, the possible coexistence of sleep-disordered breathing should be considered. Finally, physicians of patients with mild cognitive impairment and sleep-disordered breathing for whom treatment with CPAP may be indicated should consider these results, and future guidelines to formalize the clinical management of patients with mild cognitive impairment should consider the implications of this study and related research."